When Amin Expelled Asians, We Treated Them as We Now Treat Asylum-Seekers

By Howe, Darcus | New Statesman (1996), August 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

When Amin Expelled Asians, We Treated Them as We Now Treat Asylum-Seekers


Howe, Darcus, New Statesman (1996)


The death of Idi Amin, the former president of Uganda, provoked commentators into a barefaced rewriting of history. In the mid-1970s, Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda and, in an extended news item, a BBC reporter prodded an Asian businesswoman in Leicester to repeat that she had left an oppressive society in Africa to come to a welcoming, democratic society in England. The reporter could not have been older than two when the event took place.

Let me correct this nonsense about a welcoming, democratic society. Just like their present equivalents--the asylum-seekers-the Asians from Uganda came to what can only be described as the most inhospitable place on earth. And race was at the heart of it all. There were about 60,000 Asians involved and they were all British passport-holders who had moved from India to Africa at the behest of the colonial authorities. The Americans, Canadians and Swedes took half of this exodus without a hum, while the British searched the rest of the colonial globe, including the Solomon Islands and other remote parts, for places to dump this group of people who included accountants, doctors, dentists pharmacists, lawyers, shopkeepers and civil servants. …

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